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Overseas Shipping in the Atlantic Ocean

Aug 4, 2008
The Atlantic Ocean is a massive body of water that separates the continents of Europe and Africa from North and South America. It stretches from the Arctic Circle all the way down to the South Pole and is subject to every type of weather and climate known to man. Overseas shipping on the Atlantic Ocean has a long and storied history that needs to be reviewed to understand the nature of overseas shipping today.

Overseas shipping on the Atlantic Ocean before the 15th Century was limited to the countries of Europe and Africa. The two continents on the far western end of the Atlantic had not yet been discovered and sailors believed that the world was flat so if you went too far you fell off the edge. Ships generally kept close to the coast and only traversed open water in the inland Mediterranean and Red Seas.

In 1492, an adventurer named Columbus, who believed that the world was round, used his knowledge of currents and winds and crossed the Atlantic for the first time. He discovered the Americas and showed others a new sailing route. Overseas shipping of people and supplies followed shortly after. The routes that Columbus took both to America and back to Europe are still used by overseas shipping companies today.

The current that carried Columbus to the Caribbean over five hundred years ago runs south from the coast of Spain, through the Canary and Madeira Islands and across the Atlantic Ocean to the West Indies, where he landed. The current that goes back across the Atlantic goes up the East Coast of the United States and north to just above the 45th parallel. Ironically, it flows almost directly into the island of Great Britain.

Currents were very important for sailing ships in the centuries after Columbus and leading up to the development of modern ships that are powered by oil or steam. They make a voyage faster and less likely to end tragically from a lack of movement. Winds tend to blow simultaneously with the current so sailing ships stuck to the same route. Overseas shipping became a matter of staying in shipping lanes and getting there faster than your competitor.

Today, ships can move easily against the current or with no current at all, but the shipping lanes have been established by over five hundred years of overseas shipping between Europe and America. Currents also save on water resistance, or drag, that can slow a ship down and cause it to burn extra fuel. Overseas shipping rates are expensive as it is and time is an important factor in the shipping industry. Those overseas shipping companies that have the fastest delivery times tend to be the most successful.

The shipping practices and the bravery of men like Columbus and others who sailed into uncharted waters have plotted a course for the merchants of today. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean now is as common as crossing Main Street in your home town. Overseas shipping is a multi-billion dollar industry that brings the world closer together and helps us all live just a little more comfortably.
About the Author
Nir Dotan is a writer and promoter of
Overseas Shipping services,
Overseas Shipping
Local as well as International Moving.
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